Recently, I listened to a pastor describe the context of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. I was very interested to hear what he had to say since I had never heard anyone explain the context of 1 Corinthians to show how there is support for the silencing of women. I was quite surprised when he claimed the context of 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 was 1 Timothy 2. I had heard him emphasize the importance of context, context, context many times. However, his explanation of what qualifies as context was always the same as mine. The context of a disputed verse are the verses and chapters that surround it. It is never a passage in another book. While another passage in another book can be related, it isn’t the context. So I asked him again. Could he please give the direct context from the book of 1 Corinthians that supports the silencing of women. I have not yet heard back from him, but I thought it would be a good idea to go back through the entire book of 1 Corinthians to gather all of the evidence that Paul documents for why the two verses of 1 Cor. 14:34-35 were added to his letter. I found so much more than I expected from looking at a wider context! There is way more material than I could put into one article, so I am going to try to distil the evidence into categories and then I will give a conclusion of Paul’s reasoning. I will challenge anyone who thinks I have not considered the entire context. I welcome you to bring me correction and show me the supporting context from the book of First Corinthians that defines and upholds the silencing of women in the church.
CONTEXT: The Corinthian’s Letter to Paul – Questions and Claims
1 Cor. 1:11 Paul reveals there are quarrels among the Corinthians – information passed on to him from Cloe’s people. The key purpose of the book is to deal with these conflicts and quarrels. Watch carefully throughout the book of 1 Corinthians how Paul ties in his correction with the source of the conflicts.
1 Cor. 7:1 Paul mentions a letter that the Corinthians had written to Paul. The letter from the Corinthians to Paul plus the report from Cloe’s people bring to Paul information about the quarrels.
1 Cor. 7:25 Paul moves on to another area of concern; “Now concerning” virgins.
1 Cor. 8:1 “Now concerning” things sacrificed to idols.
1 Cor 16:1 “Now concerning” the collection for the saints. All of the “now concerning” references are Paul answering what had been sent to him in writing.
Other comments that Paul makes do not directly reference the letter from the Corinthians, but they appear to answer challenges, claims or arguments. For example, 1 Cor. 6:12 says:
1 Corinthians 6:12 (NASB) All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
Are “all things” lawful for Paul? The negation that follows appears to be Paul’s answer to the writer of the letter who claims not to be under any law. “All things are lawful for me,” the letter says, but Paul answers “BUT NOT all things are profitable.” Again, “All things are lawful for me,” the writer concludes, but Paul answers, “BUT I will NOT be mastered by anything.” Paul’s testimony in all the churches is that we are under the “law of Christ.” We can fulfill the duty to Christ through love and service to our brother (Gal. 6:2.) Anytime a statement is made in 1 Corinthians that appears contradictory to Paul’s known position we can suspect that Paul is dealing with issues that were presented to him, for Paul does not contradict himself. The fact that Paul consistently speaks about setting aside what is good for oneself and aiming for what is helpful for others as the “common good” should tip us off that the arrogant claim that “all things are lawful” is part of the quarrel among the Corinthians.…
The bride of Christ has been given gifts but are teacher and pastor two gifts or one?
God has given many gifts to the church, and the main purpose of the gifts is to edify the body of Christ so that God will ultimately be glorified. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 14:12 that we are to strive to excel in the gifts that will build up the church.
1 Cor 14:12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. ESV
While Paul encourages Christians to excel in building up the church, most complementarians do not believe that women are allowed to build up the church by being gifted as teachers. How can they disallow the Holy Spirit’s ability to Sovereignly decide who receives the gifts? …
I am creating a new post to continue the great discussion that we have been having on a previous post while I am out of the country. The original discussion is on this post https://mmoutreach.org/wim/2009/07/05/wayne-grudem-part-2/ and since we have grown to over 240 comments, I would ask that we continue our discussions with Mark the complementarian here.
On July 27th, 2009 Mike Seaver and I started a ten session debate on Women in Ministry where I was able to ask Mike questions on his position, he answered my questions and then we each had one response. Mike is still considering whether he will continue with another ten sessions where Mike will ask me questions, and I get the privilege to answer his questions on women in ministry.
Today I would like to summarize the ten sessions that I had with Mike. …
There is a good natured debate going on over at the Women in Ministry blog conference at the Presbyterian church in Ryde blog between myself and Peter Barnes. Those who would like to watch an Aussie and a Canadian duke it out over the issue of whether there is a “law” that forbids women to teach the bible to men can see the “brawl” (tooth and nail fight!) happening on this post linked here.
In the meantime I am visiting with my elderly folks for the next few days and will be in and out of my own blog as I have time as I also try to make time to help an Aussie realize that all of his arguments are invalid 🙂
In the last blog post, Cheryl Schatz posed her fifth set of questions to Mike Seaver regarding their discussion/debate on women in ministry. Links to all the previous questions and responses is at the end of this post. This discussion will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers on question #5 and Mike’s rejoinder. Mike’s matching blog post is here. …
Women in Ministry Debate – Does God Contradict Himself?
This is question #5 of a 10 question discussion/debate between Mike Seaverand Cheryl Schatz on the issue of women in ministry. The discussion will take the form of five questions posed by Cheryl Schatz with answers by Mike Seaver and then five questions posed by Mike Seaver with answers by Cheryl Schatz. Each question and answer session will be followed up in the next post by one response each from both Mike and Cheryl. Links to the questions and the responses will be at the bottom of this post.
In the last blog post, Cheryl Schatz posed her 4th set of questions to Mike Seaver regarding their discussion/debate on women in ministry. Links to all the previous questions and responses is at the end of this post. This discussion will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers on question #4 and Mike’s rejoinder.
Women in Ministry Debate: What authority do men have to restrict women’s gifts?
This is question #4 of a 10 question discussion/debate between Mike Seaverand Cheryl Schatz on the issue of women in ministry. The discussion will take the form of five questions posed by Cheryl Schatz with answers by Mike Seaver and then five questions posed by Mike Seaver with answers by Cheryl Schatz. Each question and answer session will be followed up in the next post by one response each from both Mike and Cheryl. Links to the questions and the responses will be at the bottom of this post. Mike’s corresponding post on his blog is here.
In the last blog post Cheryl Schatz posed her third set of questions to Mike Seaver regarding their debate on women in ministry. Links to all the previous questions and responses is at the end of this post. This discussion will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers on question #3 and Mike’s rejoinder.
I have been invited by Pastor Dave Woolcott to participate in a new blog conference on women’s eldership in the church put on by the Ryde Presbyterian Church in Ryde, Sidney, Australia. The blog address for the conference set for September 1 – 15, 2009 is http://www.achurchinryde.com/blog/The blog is on line now and active and I invite you to participate by commenting on Dave’s blog.
There is a thought-provoking article on “Should a Pastor Rule Over You?” It is very appropriate to the issue of women in ministry and what the real issues are. …
Are Witnesses and Repetition needed to Prove Women may not teach the Bible?
In the last blog post, Cheryl Schatz posed her second set of questions to Mike Seaver regarding their discussion/debate on women in ministry. Links to all the previous questions and responses is at the end of this post. This discussion will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers on question #2 and Mike’s rejoinder.
Regarding Mike’s denial that there is a need for a law to have a second witness:
Facing the spiritual “law” head-on from 1 Corinthians 14
In the last post, Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz started a discussion/debate on women in ministry. Here is a link to Cheryl’s Question #1given to Mike. This post will be Cheryl’s response to Mike’s answers and Mike’s response to Cheryl’s response. Mike’s corresponding post on his Role Calling blog is here.
Cheryl responds to Mike’s answers:
God’s law is always clear and distinct. Paul explained in 1 Cor. 14 that a word that is not clear is as useless as speaking into the air with no one to hear or understand. Similarly, a law that is not clear or distinct has no power to prepare a person to identify sin, keep away from sin and judge sin. The clearness of God’s law prevents us from misunderstanding what God requires. God has blessed us with a clear message and the clearness of the message guides our conduct.
On the contrary, an unclear word produces confusion, disagreement amongst Christians and an inability to prepare for spiritual warfare.
1 Cor 14:7 Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp?
1 Cor 14:8 For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle?
1 Cor 14:9 So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.
I have noticed how useful Paul’s words are for judging false interpretations about the law. Whenever I have asked complementarians to point to the “law” that forbids women from speaking in the congregation, I have noticed the indistinct sounds that come forth without a consensus among complementarians about where this “law” is to be found or even what the “law” forbids. Instead, we hear indistinct words like “probably” “possibly” “seems to be” “not absolute” “likely” “general pattern”. Not only is there no “distinct” and “clear” law that can be pointed to in the Old Testament, but no matter what is “guessed” for the original location of such a “law”, complementarians are unable to explain how the wording of the OT quote qualifies as a law. How does the account of the creation of the woman provide the basis for such a “law” (no other law is ever stated in such an unclear fashion) or what the law even mean?…
Today is the first post of a discussion between Mike Seaver and Cheryl Schatz on the issue of women in ministry. The discussion will take the form of five questions posed by Cheryl Schatz with answers by Mike Seaver and then five questions posed by Mike Seaver with answers by Cheryl Schatz. The format will be as follows:
Post 1 – Question #1 by Cheryl then answer by Mike
Post 2 – Response to Mike’s answer by Cheryl and rejoinder by Mike
Post 3 – Question #2 by Cheryl then answer by Mike
Post 4 – Response to Mike’s answer by Cheryl and rejoinder by Mike
This format will continue until all five questions have been posed and answered with responses by both parties. After this Mike poses questions to Cheryl, and the order above will be reversed until all five questions have been answered and responded to by both Mike and Cheryl. Mike and Cheryl will both be posting the discussions on each of their blogs. Cheryl’s blog is Women in Ministry, and Mike’s blog is Role Calling. Mike’s corresponding post on debate question #1 is here.
We hope that the respectful dialog that Mike and Cheryl have will be thought-provoking. Both of our blogs will be open for comments although our ability to respond to the comments may be limited due to our busy schedules. We just ask those who would like to comment feel free to do so making sure to keep on topic and with no personal attacks. God willing the discussion will be Christ-like and respectful even though both of us will be passionately arguing from our own viewpoint. We are hopeful that this will be a step towards building bridges between the two sides so that if nothing else at least complementarians and egalitarians will see the other point of view presented in a respectful manner. After all, we are all in the body of Christ, and despite our differences, we are to love one another because we belong to one another in Christ.…
This is the part 3 of answering Wayne Grudem’s “Open letter to Egalitarians” and his “Six Questions That Have Never Been Satisfactorily Answered”. Today I am posting his third question and my own answer.
Wayne Grudem’s question #3:
3. “or’’ (Greek e): In 1 Corinthians 14:36, some of you argue that the Greek word e (“or’’) shows that the preceding verses are a quotation from the Corinthian church which Paul denies. Therefore you say that Paul is not really telling the Corinthian church,
“the women should keep silence in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as even the law says. If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church” (1 Cor. 14:34–35),
but the Corinthians are saying those things, and Paul is just quoting them. You tell us that Paul’s response might be paraphrased as “Are you crazy?’’ This, you tell us, is the force of the tiny Greek word e, which is usually translated “or.’’ You tell us that e, “or,’’ is used in Greek to deny what went before it.
Our problem is that when we look at other examples of e used in constructions like 1 Corinthians 14:36, where the following material is clearly false (that is, Paul and the Corinthians know that the word of God did not come from them), then “or’’ functions to show that the preceding material has to be true. This would mean that verses 34–35 are affirmed by Paul.
To put it another way, Paul is arguing:
You must do A.
Or: Is B true?
Then you must do A.
This is just the opposite of what you claim. You claim that Paul uses “or’’ to deny A (verses 34–35). In fact, we can find no parallel examples where it is used to deny both what precedes and what follows. This is also what all the Greek lexicons tell us. So our question is this:
Will you please show us one example in all of ancient Greek where this word for “or’’ (e) is used to introduce what the readers know to be false, so the author can deny both what goes before and what follows?
If you can show us one example, we would be happy to consider your interpretation further. But if you cannot, then we suggest that you have no factual basis for your interpretation of this key verse, and we respectfully ask that you stop writing and speaking as if you did, and that you also reconsider your understanding of these verses.
Semigalitarianism, Undercover Enemy and “feminist air”
When does explaining God’s Word make one an enemy of the church? According to Mike Seaver, a woman who is allowed to teach the Word of God to men, even if she is under the authority of her husband and even if she has received authority from her pastor to teach the Bible (and assuming her pastor is monitoring her teaching), is like a drunken adulterer ministering to God’s people. [Mike Seaver has written a blog post at CBMW identifying the issue of women teaching the bible to men as the undercover enemy of the church. Mike is a pastor at CrossWay Community Church in Charlotte, North Carolina and regularly posts at Role Callingsee his original article here.]
According to Seaver the church has been breathing “feminist air” and this has caused many churches to become “semigalitarian”. [According to Seaver, semigalitarianism is defined as those people (both men and women) who say that a woman should not be allowed to preach in a church on her own authority, but if she claims to be under the authority of her senior pastor (who is a man) and under the authority of her husband (who is obviously a man) then it is okay for her to teach men in the church.] But while Seaver is complaining of “feminist air”, he has unwittingly become infected with a “disease” that allows Christians to see passages of scripture as “clear” (1 Timothy 2:12-13) instead of as a complex passage in its complete context (1 Timothy 2:11-15).
The attitude of identifying godly women as enemies of the church is clearly an aggressive stand equating a woman explaining the meaning of the scriptures with a drunken adulterer. It reminds me of the prejudiced view of the Orthodox Jews who believe that only men are allowed to touch the Torah.
Apparently touching the Bible by giving an explanation of the meaning of a passage now makes one an “undercover enemy.” How far has the church fallen that some feel free to attack our sisters in Christ identifying them as enemies? Notice that Seaver says nothing about whether the woman’s teaching is correct or not. He is lumping true Bible teaching in with error because it is the vessel which is the enemy, not the words that she speaks. It is the mere fact that she would touch the Word of God in public that makes her an enemy. This is the same tradition of the Pharisees who added a restriction on the teaching of God’s Word. …
This is the ninth in a series of simulated interviews with the Apostle Paul taken from the position of what he might say if we could transport Paul from the New Testament account through a time tunnel into our present day.
Doug, a strong complementarian will be questioning Paul on 1 Corinthians 14. Paul will be speaking to him about the Sovereignty of God and whether there are restrictions on women in the church. Let’s listen in. (Links to the previous interviews are at the bottom of this post.)
Doug: Paul, I am anxious to talk about 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 today. This is the final passage that convinced me that you did not allow women to teach the bible to the entire congregation. This is also one of the clearest passages there is.
Paul:I am very happy to be able to help you out with this passage. We do need to remember the complete context of this passage so that you will know how to interpret it in line with all that I taught. We are going to work with another box today. Today the box will be the filter that we need to read 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 through.
I don’t do “humor” too much on this blog, although I love humor and I love to laugh. The issue of women in ministry is normally a serious one but I couldn’t resist this funny cover that comes from my friend Pastor Jon Zens. Pastor Jon’s web site is here and he has written a good article on 1 Timothy 2:11-15 here called Are the sister free to function? There is also an answer to whether a woman is to be silent in the church here called A discussion on silent women. Pastor Jon has been very support of the function of women in the church using their God-given gifts. He has been a personal encouragement to me and he recommends my DVD set to many people.
Jon also has a new video clip on the front page of his web site revealing his views that the church should not have a clergy class but that elders and pastors are a part of the body of Christ and not a special “class” of believers.
We have been going through 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, the passage that appears to silence women in the church to see how carefully Paul has constructed his words in 1 Corinthians 14:36 to contradict the silencing in verses 34 & 35. (For past articles on this topic, please see the 1 Corinthians 14 section).
Now we come to Paul’s conclusions and in keeping with the force of the commands that Paul has given throughout chapter 14, Paul ends with two commands that completely blow away any misunderstanding that verses 34 & 35 are Paul’s words to the church instead of a quote from the Corinthian’s letter to Paul.
What is “therefore” there for?
Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:39 “therefore” my brethren… The word “therefore” is a conjuction that joins together Paul’s words in verses 36-38 with the commands in verses 39 and 40. All of this directly contradicts the injunction found in verses 34 and 35. Let’s see how Paul concludes his contradiction of the silencing of women.
1 Corinthians 14:39 Therefore my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy…
The first command of Paul’s in his summary is a repeat of what Paul had already commanded in verse 1. Paul writes in Philippians 3:1 that repetition is for our safety. The body of Christ is to desire earnestly to prophesy and this repetition at the end of the chapter is to make sure that we “get it”. Remember that Paul gave the reason why they were to desire earnestly to prophesy and the reason is for the edification of the church (1 Cor. 14:3, 4)
Speaking forth and keeping silent
Now let’s have another look at the entire chapter of 1 Cor. 14 to see what pattern is set forth regarding speaking and not speaking so that we can completely understand Paul’s summary.
“Speaking forth” allowed:
All commanded to seek spiritual gifts especially prophesying in the assembly (verse 1)
Prophesying in the assembly edifies, exhorts and consoles (verse 3)
Prophesying in the assembly edifies all (verse 4)
Gifts for use for the common good are greater than a gift that only edifies one’s self (verse 5)
In our continuing discussion of 1 Corinthians 14:34-36, we come to the problematic area of learning.
1 Corinthians 14:35 And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home…
What can we pull out regarding “learning” in this verse? We can see that if a woman has a desire to learn, she isn’t encouraged to do it in church. Where is she supposed to learn? Her learning is to be done under her husband’s permission and it is to be done at home.
The requirement that a woman is not to learn in public is not a Christian regulation but a part of the “law” of the Jews. Women were not to be taught the scriptures according to the oral tradition of the Jews. Why? Because she was not allowed to touch the scriptures and so she didn’t need to be a rabbinical student and publicly learn. She also would have no one to teach the scriptures to since the men were considered to be the ones who had the responsibility to handle and teach the Torah. Women need not learn. They were not qualified to learn.
In previous posts we have been listing the markers in 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 that prove that Paul was quoting from the Corinthians and then refuting their claims in verse 36. The wording about women learning at home (v. 35) instead of in the assembly once again ties these verses into man-made tradition.
But this isn’t Paul’s way nor is it God’s way. Paul had just told us in verse 31:
1 Corinthians 14:31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted
Not only were all allowed to prophesy in the assembly, but the public prophesying was so that all may learn in that public assembly. The learning was done by all just as the prophesying was done by all. All may learn publicly. Paul does not relegate women to learning at home. He allows them to learn in the assembly since it is the body of Christ (not just a woman’s husband) who are responsible for helping her to learn. …
Paul said something profound in 1 Corinthians 14:39 that goes against the grain of the hierarchical mindset. Paul said “forbid not to speak…”
This is not an issue of whether tongues is valid today or not. What is the issue is the command to “forbid not” to speak in the assembly. Let’s walk through this passage to see how it is all connected together.
In 1 Cor. 14:34 it says women are “not permitted to speak” in the churches. The Greek word is “epitrepetai” and it means to give liberty to, allow, give permission, entrust to. So according to verses 34 & 35, speaking in the assembly is forbidden because there is no permission given to allow women to speak and a “law” is appealed to that takes away the ability for women to speak in the assembly. Verse 36 is set up as a contradiction of verses 34 & 35. Paul answers by stating “n” which is a disjunctive conjunction which is used “to distinguish things or thoughts which either mutually exclude each other, or one of which can take the place of the other” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon. Thayer’s lists 1 Cor. 14:36 as an example of “n” used “before a sentence contrary to the one just preceding, to indicate that if one be denied or refuted the other must stand”
What then is being denied by the “n” in verse 36? It is the command in verse in verse 34 & 35 that women are to be silent. How does Paul deny this command and the appeal to the law of men? (see The Elusive Law and Is a Woman’s Voice Filthy? for further information on why these two verses are to be considered a quote from the Corinthian’s letter to Paul and not the actual words of Paul himself.)
Paul demands to know if the word of God comes only through them (the men demanding the silencing of women) and he demands to know if only they are to receive God’s word. In other words, Paul is demanding to know if God only speaks through men and God only gives his word to men and does not speak through women and to women. Remember that the command to silence women also denied their learning in the assembly. If they wanted to learn anything, they were commanded to learn at home. Paul in essence asks where is this God’s word? Where are women forbidden to speak God’s words and where are women forbidden to learn God’s words? It is certainly true that in the oral law of the Jews women were forbidden to speak in the assembly and women were forbidden to be taught God’s word. For a father to teach his daughter the Torah was considered immoral by the Jews because women were forbidden to handle God’s word and so there was no need to learn it. …
Many people have a big problem with Paul because they think that he was sexist. I would like to change that point of view by looking carefully at the text so that we can fully appreciate Paul for who he was, not the false impression that we have of Paul. Under God’s inspiration Paul refuted faulty tradition and that faulty tradition included sexism that was prevalent during his day. Let’s have a look how Paul did that.
In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul responded to a letter written to him by the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 7:1, Paul says:
1 Corinthians 7:1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote….
Paul then quotes from the letter written to him and every time he quotes the letter, Paul contradicts the Corinthians.
1 Corinthians 7:1….(Corinthians) it is good for a man not to touch a woman
1 Corinthians 7:2 (Paul) But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife and each woman is to have her own husband.
1 Corinthians 10:23 (Corinthians) All things are lawful (Paul) but not all things are profitable. (Corinthians) All things are lawful (Paul) but not all things edify.
1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 (Corinthians) The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper (filthy) for a woman to speak in church.
1 Corinthians 14:36 (Paul) (What!?!) was it from you that the word of God went forth? (What!?!) has it come to you only?
In verse 36 Paul starts each statement with the Greek word “n” which isn’t always evident in the translations as some completely ignore this word. It is a term used to show that the question implies a negative answer – a negation of something that has just proceeded it. It would be the equivalent of stating a false statement and then saying “Bunk!” or “Horse feathers!” or “You have got to be kidding!” So what Paul is doing here is negating what was just quoted. Since Paul cannot negate himself, it is evident that the quote from verses 34 & 35 is a quote from the Corinthian letter to Paul. …
In the last post we talked about how there is no “law” in the Old Testament scriptures that forced women to be silent in the assembly so the reference in 1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 had to be some other “law” that forced silence on women. The “law” that silences women is found not in God’s law, but in the oral tradition of the Jews, now written down in the Talmud.
The next red flag that points to another source other than God’s law, for the saying in verses 34 & 35 is the charge that a woman’s voice is filthy. Verse 35 says:
1 Corinthians 14:35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home;for it is improper for a woman to speak in church.
The word translated as “improper” is shameful or filthy. Is a woman’s voice shameful? Is a woman’s voice filthy? The oral law of the Jews said her voice was indecent, filthy and shameful. A woman was not allowed to speak in their congregations for the sake of the men. Her voice was considered a sexual enticement thus a woman was not to speak publicly. …
1 Corinthians 14:34, 35 has been a problem passage because of two issues that stick out like a sore thumb. The first issue is the elusive law.
The problem that occurs in this passage is that the “law” is the key reference for the required silence. Many have tried to ignore this “elusive” law making their interpretation around it. This has resulted in the silencing of women from asking their husbands questions in the assembly. But where is this “elusive” law found that silences only women from asking questions in the assembly? Paul doesn’t say that it is disruptive to talk in the assembly. The wording is a direct prohibition attached to an existing “law”.
Some have tried to “shoe horn” Genesis 3:16 as a “law” that silences women. This connection is not possible. For women like myself who have very supportive husbands who encourage me to use my gifts for the benefit of the body of Christ (including benefiting men), I am not being silenced at all by Genesis 3:16 no matter how the “he will rule over you” is taken.
So where is the “law” that silences women in the assembly? One cannot interpret this passage without finding the elusive law.
I will let my readers answer this one before we continue on with 1 Corinthians 14. What do you think? Why is there a “law” quoted in 1 Cor. 14:34 that cannot be found in the Old Testament? Have you heard of any other reference to a “law” from the Old Testament? Is it possible that verse 34 is a new law that Paul has just created? Why or why not?
One of the helpful things in interpreting scripture is to identify what I call “scriptural fences”. These special verses force us to interpret the passage within the limits set up by the “fence” line. When we can identify a “fence” in scripture, we are well on our way to understanding the apparent contradictions within scripture. In this post I am going to give three examples of scripture “fences”.
The first fence line is found in Revelation chapter 21.
Rev. 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Now to some, this may not seem like a “fence” but when we read in Acts 1 that the apostles picked Matthias to replace Judas, we have a contradiction that needs to be dealt with:
Act 1:20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘LET HIS HOMESTEAD BE MADE DESOLATE, AND LET NO ONE DWELL IN IT’; and, ‘LET ANOTHER MAN TAKE HIS OFFICE.’
Act 1:21 “Therefore it is necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us–
Act 1:22 beginning with the baptism of John until the day that He was taken up from us–one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
Act 1:23 So they put forward two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias.
Act 1:24 And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen
Act 1:25 to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”
Act 1:26 And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was added to the eleven apostles.
How could Matthias be an apostle who replaces Judas when Paul claimed to be an apostle picked by the risen Christ? Some may claim that there are actually 13 foundational apostles, but that is impossible. Why? It is because of the scriptural “fence”. The book of Revelation states that they are 12 apostles who form the foundation stones, not 13. If we interpret scripture with the understanding that Revelation 21:14 forms a boundary or a “fence” that places a boundary for our understanding, then we need to make a decision; was Paul the 12th apostle or was Matthias? Did you ever wonder why Paul had to try so hard to prove his apostleship? It is because Psalms 109:8 says that another is to take his (Judas) place and the 11 disciples had already picked the 12th before Paul even came on the scene. …
I received an excellent link to a post on the subject of Paul silencing women in 1 Corinthians 14 and I wanted to pass it on for all to see. It is called “Shut Her Bug” and is an excellent piece by James Patrick Holding. The link is here and I especially liked it because it is exactly what I could clearly see in the Corinthian passage that previously had seemed to completely silence women in the church. It looks like there are more and more people having their eyes opened to the “elusive law” as I call it from 1 Corinthians 14. Enjoy. Thanks to Pastor “D” for the link.